Nitrous Oxide: A Simple Guide
DENTAL SURGEON

Nitrous Oxide: A Simple Guide

0 November 16, 2023

Are you afraid of injections and going under general anesthesia for dental procedures to the point where you have been delaying your treatment? We have a solution for you – Nitrous oxide inhalation sedation, commonly known as laughing gas.

Nitrous oxide is a mild numbing agent that safely and effectively manages pain and anxiety during dental treatment. Using nitrous oxide doesn’t put you to sleep or make you unconscious, unlike other sedation procedures. You can communicate with your dentist throughout the procedure.

How is nitrous oxide given to the patient?

 Nitrous oxide gas along with oxygen gas is given to the patient through a mask that fits over your nose. There are different sizes available for the masks. Patients are instructed to relax and breathe normally and the effect is felt within minutes. 

https://youtu.be/Av-xnPeco3k?si=85c_iAoKUt4CkSTn

How does it work?

Nitrous oxide reduces anxiety, the administration doesn’t require needles or painful procedures. After it is administered you might feel a bit of dizziness or tingling sensation mostly in your arms and legs.

Laughing gas might not make you laugh as the name suggests, it just makes you lightheaded or intoxicated which in turn makes you feel relaxed and happy. This helps the patients to be calm and comfortable during dental procedures.

Safety:

It is a very safe procedure when administered by a professional. You won’t experience drowsiness or numbness after the effect wears off. If you don’t have anyone to accompany you for your dental visit, not a problem!

Side effects: 

Though side effects are rare,there is a possibility someone can get allergic reactions.

Signs and symptoms can include of an allergic reaction:

Fever, breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing.

Seek medical help immediately if you notice these symptoms they can generally be easily treated.

Other side effects include nausea, vomiting. To prevent this make sure you have light meals 2 hours before administration of nitrous oxide.

Why has nitrous oxide sedation become so popular over the years?

It is a safer method to numb the body, used on kids as well as adults to reduce anxiety.

There are no long-term effects and minimal side effects. 

The administration procedure is easy, quick, and not expensive.

Dental professionals were able to give a better quality of treatment when the patients were calm and relaxed. Hence, an overall successful and comfortable dental experience.

Who is suitable for nitrous oxide?

Patients with dental anxiety, children undergoing dental treatment, adults (for a relatively pain free dental experience)   are considered most suitable for this procedure. It is a very useful tool for special needs kids/ adults.

Nitrous oxide should not be administered to patients with claustrophobia  (fear of closed spaces) , blocked nose, patients with certain psychiatric disorders, and lung problems. It is not advised in cases of pregnancy as it can harm the baby inside. Make sure you inform your dentist about your health issues before undergoing nitrous oxide sedation. 

Patients with vitamin B12 deficiency, anemia, infection in the ear( middle ear), being treated with bleomycin sulfate (cancer patients)  nitrous oxide inhalation sedation is not advised.


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The fear of the dentist or dental clinic is one of the most common reasons to delay or neglect your oral health and dental needs. People experience anxiety, panic attacks, phobia all of which can be treated with the help of nitrous oxide during dental treatment. This technique is a boon to the patient and the dentist. Visit your dentist and know more about nitrous oxide for a better dental experience.

  • By Dr Shagorika Choudhury

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